17 April 2009

Harvesting changes

Recently I made a few changes in how the harvesting works. Mainly, I increased the number of events, which force you to actually pay attention to the harvesting process, to restart it when it stops due to those events.
Now, for those who don't harvest AFK, and harvest only resources that require a level smaller than their harvesting level, the change is not too drastic. There will be a slight decrease in the rate of the harvesting, perhaps 5-10%, but since it happens to everyone equally, I don't consider it to be a problem.
There were 3 reasons for this change:
1. The economy was flooded with too many items and resources, and almost every day more gold was coming in the game than going out, by about 15% on average.
2. Gold farmers had many harvesting characters which were used to make gold and then sell for RL $$$. Now, I don't have a huge problem with the gold farming, so long as you have to actually work for it. But having multiple harvesting characters that generate gold is not good for anyone except for the farmers.
3. Some players had harvesting characters which they used to supply their main character. While that is illegal, not everyone gets caught, so this will have a negative impact on the cheaters.

I expected that most of the people will welcome the changes, since it fixes some of the inflation, while at the same time impacts the cheaters and farmers, with relatively little impact on honest players.
But it turned out that I was pretty wrong. A lot of players complained that, omfg, now they can't harvest from school/work, or harvest while eating breakfast and taking a long crap in the bathroom. Others complained that now the harvesting is too boring because they actually have to pay attention(!) while harvesting.

Based on my tests, and the tests of some other players, if you don't harvest AFK, you don't have much to worry about, the resources harvested are about the same as before (and you get more harvesting exp in the process). Nevertheless, the rate of the random events was slightly higher than I wanted, so I will drop it down just a little bit.

Unlike most of the other games, in EL harvesting is almost painless and automatic. We have map walk, so you can get to the storage with just a few clicks. Harvesting id done with a few clicks as well. I think that those complaining should try some other games, and see if they enjoy it more there.

Anyway, the end result is that some people quitted, and many of them don't bring their harvesting alts online anymore, resulting in a players drop of ~10-15%. I am not really crying over that loss, but we will have to focus more on bringing new players and increase the player retention rate.

17 Comments:

Anonymous elPlaya said...

Well, my first reaction was 'omg, I hate this and gonna quit'. I'm not a farmer nor do I have alts for harving, I just liked AFK harvesting. But now I'm getting used to the new mini-events and if you tone down the frequency of them, great. If not, not a biggie really since I'm already getting used to them (and probably most are. and many quitters will come back.) The harvesting is still better than in some other games I've tried.

17/4/09 15:05  
Blogger S'orlok Reaves said...

I agree with elPlaya; the annoyance of this new feature died down quickly, and I notice it less now. In terms of balancing the economy, I totally agree with you.

Generally I read (books. Er, real books) while harvesting, and I've found that I'm (lv. 47) interrupted 3 times on average while harvesting quartz (lv. ~17) which seems a bit much. But the only thing I actually dislike is when I get the "You have stopped harvesting" message with no corresponding event (happens about 5% of the time). I rather like your idea of giving some experience or gold; how come I sometimes stop harvesting for no apparent reason?

P.S.: Just for clarity, I'm not referring to the "Too heavy..." messages; the ones I've encountered have no event text at all.

19/4/09 13:51  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i do have a small problem with this. i don't really AFK harvest, just... i like to do other things while harvesting. one of the big hints that i used (in last update) was that when an event happens, the harvesting eye candy stops. in the new update, the eye candy doesn't stop. in fact, in some cases, it will continue even on the trip to storage. im sure other people have mentioned this, but i just want to make sure you are aware of the problems

19/4/09 23:05  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What I find interesting is the harvest events in the light of the series of "postmortem" articles you wrote several years ago. In part IV of that series, you identified the backlash on harvest events as the proverbial "straw that broke the camel's back" pushing you to quit developing EL.

Don't act surprised by reaction. You knew what community reaction would be to the harvest events, and it is not a viable solution to the inflation problem. In a market economy you don't reduce inflation by making resources scarcer - that is backwards and any first year economics student can tell you that. What it boils down to is that you are punishing good players because of a few who are not so good.

Regular harvesting events are no where near as frustrating as the mini-events. Even after you "decreased" the frequency, I had 12 mini-events in harvesting 200 swamp candles.

You want to use other games as an example, but no other game requires the amount of resources for production that EL does. Just consider a Seridium bar...
It requires 6 seridium 0re which = 6 matter conglomerates = 80 Earth essences + 25 Matter Essences = 800 Swamp Candles + 800 sulfur + 1600 coal + 25 iron + 25 quartz + 25 rose quartz + 25 Blue quartz
plus
20 fire essences (20 Sulfur + 20 snapdragons + 20 red roses)
Plus
20 coal.
Those ingredients take hours of harvest time and mixing to produce, and NOBODY is going to sit dedicated to staring at a screen while the only thing happening is little sparkly things going up from harvesting. To think that is the case is delusional. People read, surf the web, watch TV, etc., while harvesting.

Look online at reviews of MMORPG's. One of the biggest criticisms of EL is the endless harvesting and mixing time required to manufacture...and you want to make it worse?

The Matter Conglomerate is not the most significant issue...A mid level A/D trainer on the ogre marathon can go through a couple thousand health essences and a thousand SR potions in a week. Making resources harder to get is going to cause prices to increase and players to quit - and you know that as well as I do.

I am getting increasingly frustrated with the situation and I know many, many others who are as well. Like many adult players, time is important to me - and your harvest mini-events cost me time.

I disagree with the previous commenter that quitters will come back - I think the exodus is just beginning. If your goal is to increase the membership of RuneScape, you have a winner with this. I recruit people to play EL, and have spent many hours of my own time helping noobies out in the game in order to "do my part" to increase membership and retention of players, but if nothing changes, I am done. Inflation and gold farmers are not as much of a problem as your solution.

I don't have access to records, but there are less than 300 players online at 8:30 eastern. Thats not good.

23/4/09 08:33  
Blogger Burn said...

I think the "sweet spot" was hit when the events got reduced. Still no way to "afk harv" (tested that a few times, even with a harv med), and at the same time there's not so many that they hit an "annoyance" level. Risk a harv medallion for less harv stops, but that costs gc itself. Nice touch with that.

Haven't really seen any complaints about them since the reduction either. And a few people who screamed they were leaving that I knew of are back and seem to have adjusted to the change.

Maybe the high level of events at first was a good thing, made the reduction seem better after seeing how bad it could have been, hehe.

26/4/09 04:09  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi,

I hadn't played for a few weeks so i wondered what was going on with the harvesting event thing to begin with but i do like the idea but at the same time As i never harvest AFK in case i randomly die ;) due to an unforeseen event i like the extra Xp but at the same time find it annoying having to keep re-clicking on what i'm harvesting but i'm sure you will find the correct ratio for this at some point.

As usual loving the game...

Tetro

27/4/09 18:13  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just have to comment in regards to a previous comment. S\he states "If your goal is to increase the membership of RuneScape, you have a winner with this." Apparently this individual is not aware Runescape harvesting is, 1 item per click (26? ores per full inventory) with an AFK timer, leave the machine, and you are logged out. So such statements are unfounded exaggerations.

3/5/09 09:46  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Others complained that now the harvesting is too boring because they actually have to pay attention(!) while harvesting.Like there's something interesting about sitting at one spot for hours watching a still screen. I find more amusement in a chat client.
This game was very good once, too bad this once period was so long ago I can't even remember when I started. It turned out into a bunch of hacks without a clear road map and as far as I see it's going nowhere but down.

6/5/09 09:53  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to agree with most of these comments .Mini event are terrible .I like to harvest and do my house work ,before hubby gets home from work.I can,t do that and get my ings for forjects if I,m always getting events <<

15/5/09 15:05  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to agree with the above, this was once a great game I would say the best MMO I ever played back around 2006. The pr0 fighters left because fighting became too hard, now there is a risk of mixers leaving because gameplay is becoming bad for them too. I've played many other MMO's that went down because too many players left because of boredom, I can see the same signs all over again.

Sure, you can get new players. But they won't stick to a game that is tedious. Alot of veteren players only still play because they have friends in the game, and still have hope that the gameplay will improve...

Suggestion: Implement that resources limit thing and remove harvest events or atleast reduce harvesting times (i.e. less time to get one ore).

Maybe as a test create a new server and have the game as it was in 2004 or 2005 or 2006 and you will see how many players flock there.

20/5/09 23:17  
Blogger ht990332 said...

> "It turned out into a bunch of hacks without a clear road map and as far as I see it's going nowhere but down."

That's actually very true. All recent game changes are fix harvesting alts, fix this, fix that ... all of which are incomplete changes.
For example. I understand that mini events are not supposed to stop the harvesting effects. But they should at least stop them when I walk far away from the harvestable, correct? This makes me think that the change was not very thought out.

The last ever interesting new feature was archery.

31/5/09 07:09  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, the mini-events made me quit for already mentioned reasons. I like to harvest while surfing the web. However, with the mini-events coming up a LOT, I get stressed too much to combine harvesting with anything else outside EL. One might say harvesting is intended to take full attention: in that case EL is not the right game for me. I consider harvesting boring.

I still like the game, so maybe I come back sometime.
~Machevort

21/6/09 11:17  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I looked through my logs and harvesting gets interrupted after 30-60 Seconds in average now. The problem isn't that you have to "pay attention". The problem is that you have to watch something, which isn't very exciting.

Sure, I see the problems with farming, which is present everywhere. Powerplayers usually spoil the fun for the normal player base. May I ask though, if making the game more and more annoying is the solution ?

Go the othere way, you are mentoning in following posts. Give the players something that is exciting! Mobs that need team work, for example. The lack of grouping options and lack of magic possibilities and the repetitiveness of harvesting/mixing was someting that made me quit years ago.

I was just looking back in recently to show a mate a game I once enjoyed for a while.

The frequency of the interupts, breaks the flow IMHO. I can't even chat and explain somthing to someone, because I frequently get interupted by the events.

I don't know if that is so hard to understand. I never was a power player and just harvest/mix for my own needs to have something to do.

*smile* and I know it is hard to keep things balanced.

14/7/09 09:52  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

aTeh here ,

You only have to look on the unnoficial El forums to see the GC selling has not decreased.

27/7/09 15:53  
Anonymous Wolf said...

What can I say,
I recently came back from a long hiatus from EL, so I never read about the harvest changes in updates. I just experienced them harvesting silver. Yeah.. It kind of had me going
"Whats all this crap?" but didn't take long at all to adjust. I could still do what I always did while harvesting. Read, look at virals, and surf the web. I'd just have to bring the EL window back up more. So what? I've still made Over 10k HE and 5k LE since coming back with no problems.

Those who went far enough to quit over it.. good riddance. Sounds like they have anger problems or just ran up to Mom or Dad and asked for money to play another game.

Just go play Runescape where you get to stare at the screen for hours so you can get 28 of one item and having to click 40+ times to do so, then having to click another 20 times to walk your bum to a bank. THEN come back and complain about the new Harvesting events here. Oh, and all that's while having to move every 3 minutes or you get logged out.

All games, to a point, update their content.
Whats the difference here? The difference is that this game is ran independently and not some big freaking company that sees the players as walking dollar bills. The people who run this game have more communication with its players than I have ever seen in any other game. And people take that and step all over it.

Just live with the changes. Who gives. EL is still a great game for the community alone.
This game is open to everyone to play equally for free. Paying is only a GC advantage. But too many people forget that and act downright ungrateful.. Suggestions are harmless, bitching and moaning is childish.

If none of this applied to you then, no offense intended.
Nuff said.

29/9/09 05:17  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If the eents are to dissuade gold farmers just remove the "found bag/gold events" this should result in gold farmer opting for selling the harvestables for gcs. This over long run would not be profitable since how much ings would one need for mixing.

Say if a person harvested 1000k of suplur. The price would naturally come down as many players also would harvest the same stuff. Thereby this would on the long run make this approach less attractive for gold farmers.

25/11/09 03:06  
Anonymous jjk said...

Harvesting was never meant to be afk-able, it was single click until someone with wrist injuries complained enough taht he wanted an auto harvest, be lucky we have an official ingame auto harv ^^

14/1/10 17:27  

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